Scott Simons, who as a teen negotiated loan rates with F&I managers on behalf of his father, always wanted to run a car dealership.
Some dealers shun subprime customers, treating them as undesirables. But Scott Simons insists, “You can do special finance with class.” He does so not only out of respect, but also because it makes business sense in his market.
He’s an outgoing but hard-charging dealer who represents five franchises in Staunton, population 24,000, a city in central Virginia. Simon has hit impressive numbers while turning around struggling dealerships.
“You can do well buying under-producing stores,” he says. Much of his success centers on knowing how to do deals for people with imperfect credit scores.
“If you’re not involved in special finance, you are missing a big part of the market,” he says, indicating subprime customers account for more than half of the car buyers in many markets.
Simons, 43, showed an interest in dealerships at a young age. As a teen, he’d negotiate with finance officers on behalf of his car-buying father. He started working at a defunct Saturn store 20 years ago.
“I always told people I wanted to be a dealer,” he says at a DrivingSales Presidents Club conference.
In 2001, he took over a Honda store in Harrisonburg, VA, that was netting $100,000 a year. “We grew to $2.5 million a year,” he says.
Carter Myers Automotive recruited him to run Valley Honda in Staunton. That is now Valley Honda Volkswagen. More acquisitions followed, leading to Valley Nissan and Valley Subaru.
Carter Myers III, a former National Automobile Dealers Assn. chairman, is executive director of the namesake dealer group.
The Valley stores are near each other on a stretch of U.S. Route 50 called the Lee Jackson Memorial Highway named after Civil War generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
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